Friday, December 29, 2006

Hajj is here: Over the next two weeks, gobs of Muslims will make the pilgrimage to Mecca, and martyrs are expected, usually in stampedes when too many people gather to stone the devil. Here’s a BBC News rundown of the lowlights since 1987, which have ranged from 14 dead in 2003 to more than 1,400 in 1990. One smartass on set "this yr’s over/under at 290."

Hillbilly, of Hillbilly Heaven, pleads no-contest: There’s a lot going on with Robert Hale, 65, in Alaska. He’s the son of a football All-America, lived for 20 yrs on a Jack Nicholson-owned farm, once eloped with the daughter of Governor-to-be John Connally of Texas, became a born-again Christian, and home-schooled his 3 kids to read only the Bible and bathe with their clothes on. He purchased a farm ("Hillbilly Heaven") in Alaska with saved-up state oil-tax handouts. He became a local legend when he defied the federal gov’t on a land issue. And he just pleaded no-contest . . to raping one of his daughters.

Two trends merge in Japan—"booms" (where everyone follows the leader on any hot new trend) and specially-bred designer dogs. So, if people decide they want things like a white dachshund or blue some-other-dog, breeders swing into action and make lots of them fast, and that requires multiple inbreeding of recessive-trait dogs, which means deformities runneth over. Yow.

As previously announced, this 6-day-a-week weblog is publishing only Mon-Wed-Fri until January 3, when regular posting resumes . . . . . And whether you live in Florida or not, there’s robust cynicism and absurdity in Yr Editor’s daily column, The F State (uh, daily except not so daily during this holiday season).

Below The Fold
In a Chicago suburb, someone stole a 48-ft trailer full of, er, broccoli . . . . . India’s Tamil Nadu state is turning severely populist, politically, with the in-power DMK party handing out 90,000 TV sets to people who voted for them, with gas stoves to come . . . . . A court in India has awarded a family damages for the auto-collision loss of an elephant not as if it were property but "at par with a human being" . . . . . Man about to be arrested punches Annapolis cop, yells "You’ll never catch me," runs up stairs, discovers all exits locked, sheepishly wanders back down to cops . . . . . Ms. Miyoko Kawahara, 59, was already looking at a yr in the Joint for driving a neighbor crazy by playing loud music for months at a time, but a judge gave her 8 more months when the magnitude of her crime dawned on him . . . . . And if all of the invitations to your friends’ New Year’s parties have, y’know, gotten lost in the mail, you can spend some time here—watching cheddar cheese age.